FIS will finalize World Cup ski racing calendar next week | AspenTimes.com

FIS will finalize World Cup ski racing calendar next week

A banner at the women's World Cup ski races in Aspen in December tout Aspen's hosting of the World Cup Finals in March 2017.
Aspen Times file photo |

Aspen will get definitive word next week on whether it will host the 2017 World Cup Finals, ending nearly two years of speculation about the fate of hosting the high-profile races.

The International Ski Federation (FIS) will hold its 50th International Congress in Cancun June 5-11. As part of that meeting, it will finalize the calendar for the 2017 alpine racing season.

It was at the FIS Congress in Barcelona, Spain, two years ago that Aspen was named the surprise host of the World Cup Finals in March 2017. But there was an asterisk by the date on the preliminary calendar. The FIS wanted progress on base area improvements and a new Lift 1A to make sure the venue matched its brand.

Since then, top FIS officials have insisted that Aspen must make improvements, but they’ve stopped short of issuing an ultimatum that the finals would be pulled from Aspen and awarded elsewhere if the improvements weren’t made.

Skico Vice President of Sales and Events John Rigney is heading to Cancun Friday for part of the FIS meeting. He said the opening days are filled with meetings by committees, sub-committees and working groups.

He anticipates attending several technical meetings and giving updates on topics such as a revised base area layout, summer construction on the course and traffic flow on Lift 1AS.

FIS officials visiting in June

Rigney, Skico’s point person with the FIS, has repeatedly said he and the World Cup organizing committee are moving ahead on the assumption that the races will remain as they are scheduled. The organizing committee has designed a logo for the event and is enlisting volunteers and lining up lodging for thousands of racers, coaches, support staff and media.

FIS officials visited Aspen in April for a speed safety inspection of the racecourses, Rigney said. Perhaps most importantly, top FIS officials will visit Aspen June 12-14 to “walk the hill” and go over all minutiae of the event, he said.

Skico obtained approvals from the U.S. Forest Service to replace Lift 1A, a fixed-grip double chair, with a high-speed detachable lift. However, Skico said it won’t undertake the project until there is more certainty how the base area will be developed. The city of Aspen is reviewing proposals for two tourist accommodations at the base.

High-profile event

The World Cup Finals trail only the Olympics and World Championships in stature in alpine ski racing. “The Finals will be the first outside Europe since 1997 and the return of men’s World Cup in Aspen for the first time since 2001,” Skico notes on its website.

The event is scheduled in Aspen March 15-19. The event will showcase the top performers of the season in men’s and women’s downhill, super G, giant slalom and slalom as well as a team event.

The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association also is forging ahead on the assumption that Aspen will retain the races. It sent out a press release on Nov. 10, 2015 that the FIS gave final approval to the 2016-17 schedule. That jumped the gun because the calendar isn’t final until the FIS Congress votes on it at the annual summer meeting.

The FIS recently posted on its website that the FIS Council will work on the final calendar in the days prior to the General Assembly meeting on Friday, so the final answer on the Finals could come prior to the end of the meeting.


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